News

Boosting trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa

Boosting trade and investment in Sub-Saharan Africa
Photo credit: AP | Abbas Dulleh

17 Aug 2017

The last 15 years have seen fast economic growth in many Sub-Saharan countries.

However, there is a need to translate these factors into sustained poverty reduction through greater productivity, better job creation and greater shared prosperity – still challenging for many of the region’s economies. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals under Agenda 2030 offers an renewed opportunity for developed economies to partner with Sub-Saharan countries to deliver real socioeconomic benefits and greater equality.

A sharp focus on developing and implementing interconnected, sustainable economic policies and governance structures should be a priority for governments in the leading regional economies, with an eye to creating the predictable and stable environments for inward investment that multinationals seek. What are considered to be the main barriers to international investment and how can they be overcome? How can we bring renewed energy to the virtuous and self-perpetuating circle of greater investment, deeper supply chains, trade, productivity and job creation within and with Africa.

One of the drivers of greater prosperity will be stronger intra-regional trade, the development of more productive local businesses in sectors with real growth and job creation potential – agriculture, financial services, renewable energy. Boosting the ease of transacting business across borders in the Sub-Saharan region should enable the creation of localised value chains, retention of human capital, export growth and ultimately greater industrialisation.

The purpose of this Wilton Park roundtable was to identify and develop channels that facilitate greater trade and investment within, between and beyond the borders of the leading Sub-Saharan economies. It aimed to map out areas where developed and emerging states can partner with a range of countries in the region to share best practice in developing trade and investment policy with the long term goal of doubling both in a decade.

Key points

  • Despite recent developments in many countries across the region, both hard and soft infrastructure remains an obstacle to competitive trade. The emergence of new funding sources, along with greater competition in the development arena, has opened up new opportunities for driving projects forward.

  • More support on compliance with standards should pay dividends in facilitating intra-regional trade, if implemented effectively throughout the region. Capacity building and stronger regional relationships between trading blocs can help in achieving this, but there could also be a specific role for UK institutions with particular expertise in standards formation, implementation and compliance.

  • Transformative partnerships between international business and national governments, which consider wider societal development outcomes, can help restore trust in international organisations. Governmental and non-governmental partners can also play a role in facilitating the formation of these partnerships

  • Significant opportunities for investment will continue to grow throughout the region over the next decade. Driven by many of the regions emerging challenges, these opportunities encompass urban infrastructure, increased education and skills development, the digital economy and Africa’s growing services sector.